Frack site policing operation disbanded

200109 PNR Maxine Gill 5

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 9 January 2020. Photo: Maxine Gill

The policing operation outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site has ended, Lancashire Constabulary has confirmed.

Operation Manila began in January 2017 when Cuadrilla started construction work at the site near Blackpool, attracting near daily protests.

A police spokesperson said today there had been no policing operation at the site since 2 December 2019.

During the operation, officers made more than 400 arrests outside the site, where Cuadrilla drilled and partially fracked two shale gas wells.

Anti-fracking campaigners often criticised police tactics at Preston New Road. Officers were accused of failing to balance the right to protest with Cuadrilla’s right to operate its business. There were also complaints that the policing operation was heavy-handed and inconsistent.

Scaled down

The policing operation was scaled back during the autumn of 2019.

Fracking was suspended on 26 August 2019 after the operation induced a 2.9ML earth tremor, felt across the area.

Later, in November 2019, the government announced an immediate moratorium on fracking throughout England.

This month, Cuadrilla reportedly told local representatives it had “no immediate plans” for Preston New Road but that it was “not giving up” on the site. Both wells, PNR1z and PNR2, have been suspended. PNR1z has been plugged. A pressure test is underway on PNR2.

Police officers did not attend the January meeting of the site’s community liaison group or send a report. The 50mph speed limit on Preston New Road has been reinstated.

Arrests and charges

In the two years of Operation Manila, Lancashire Police data shows that officers made 444 arrests, resulting in 434 charges.

200114 Operation manila arrests and charges

Most of the arrests were in 2017, with only 9 in 2019.

According to the data, just over half the arrests (226) were for allegedly obstructing the highway. About 15% (69) were for allegedly obstructing police.

The Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner revealed last year that less than half the arrests had ended in convictions. DrillOrDrop report

In correspondence with an anti-fracking campaigner, the PCC said there had been a total of 220 convictions arising from protests between January 2017 and December 2018. At the time, this was 49% of arrests and 51% of charges. The rate may have risen since then because some 2019 arrests had not then gone to court.

Policing costs

The cost of Operation Manila stands at £11.75m. This includes data up to June 2019.

200114 Operation costs

Based on these figures, almost 20% of the total cost was in July-September 2017. This period coincided with the arrival of the drilling rig, the spudding of the first well and the eviction of a roadside camp.

In December 2017, Lancashire Police Federation said Operation Manila had placed “a huge strain on policing, particularly earlier in the year”.

The PCC said the Home Office has paid 85% of the costs for 2017-2018 and £5.9m for 2018-2019. A further claim would be submitted for 2019-2020.

16 replies »

            • Hi Paul

              Thanks for drawing this to our attention.

              I took “Manila envelope” as a play on words on the name of the police operation.
              I don’t read this as a serious or specific accusation of corruption.

              • You seem a bit touchy today Paul? And after that amusing Tin Tin cartoon too? Its a roller coaster with you isn’t it? Perhaps you are belabouring a bit of a dead duck here?

                No, i see no accusation of……the “c” word…..here Paul? What exactly does the word Manila envelope mean to you? Perhaps that is more the question? We all send and receive many things such as tax returns and official letters in Manila envelopes. No “c” word involved or implicated, at least with most people, maybe your experience is different? Does one, or a tonne, of Manila envelopes have any other connotations if you are honest and totally beyond reproach?


                The Royal Mail deal with millions of them every day don’t they. Is that simple observation tantamount to accusing the Royal Mail of the “c” word?

                No, of course not.

                Unless of course you call the tax payer being expected to pay for way over the top police numbers to “protect” a private corporation from a few pensioners and disabled people in wheelchairs, is that the “c” word?

                After all, isnt that what the tax payers are for? To pay for protection for private corporations? Isn’t that in the HMRC OGA and EA small print?

                Particularly when the public were left with minimal, if not total absentee, Police personnel to investigate burglaries and crime? Because the local Police were all at failed fossil fuel exploration sites and being paid overtime and special rates for doing so. And all for a few members of the public, including pensioners and disabled people in wheel chairs? No burglaries and theft and violence against the public there is there? Hmmm….

                From the text above, apologies Paul and Ruth for the copy and paste:

                “The PCC said the Home Office has paid 85% of the costs for 2017-2018 and £5.9m for 2018-2019. A further claim would be submitted for 2019-2020.”

                So does that mean that it looks like Operation Manila will require yet more tax payer paid for tax revenue to pay for those police operations this year too?

                Why not in a Manila envelope? Just simple tax payer contributions isnt it? No “c” word there is there?…..Or is there……?

                Never mind.

                Have A Nice Day.

                [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • Ha! Ha! So says the “non expert” on Swept Path Analyses who cannot admit he is wrong! Apart from battery farm chickens!

      Yes, Paul Seaman is pretty good, isnt he?

      Everyone agrees with Paul Seaman.

  1. I have solved the issue of loads and gates, my little “engineer” friend. Actually my wife did.

    Big tree, medium gate. She developed the PEF solution.

    Pointy End First. She also comes in handy for sweeping paths.

    Even my kids say, where there’s a will there is a way. Seems that extreme sports would not even require any training. The young are so caring!

    Pleased to see you are attempting to solve the issue of not overtaking that other author renowned for writing the pinnacles of realist fiction, also with the record of readers who gave up reading his works from fatigue. Tolstoy can sleep peacefully, as long as the resolution lasts.

    • Hmm-Martin, Another apocryphal story? Perhaps there was something within that apocryphal story that had some value. Please excuse me for not being able to identify it.

      Isnt it time for you to implore Paul Seaman, with whom everyone agrees, to dig you out of that hole you have dug for yourself into yet again?

      Oh, yes, and:

      Whatever you attempted to say there Martin, is lost to your own BS test…..

      I won’t let you know.

      Never mind.

      Better luck next time.

  2. Still following that great “engineering” approach of starting to paint the floor at the door, and ending up in the far corner?

    Another way of extending your carbon footprint.

    Which is why you have to repeat. Again, and again, and again….

    Sorry-we will let you know.

  3. There you are Paul Seaman, what did i tell you?

    Oh dear Martin! Here we go again…..

    What a display of desperate avoidance? Funny that is is always you that repeats your own little decaying list of rubbish accusations again and again and again and again ad infintum and ad nauseam? But you dont like it reflected back do you? Oh, No! How funny is that!

    And you failed your own BS test AGAIN too! How many more times? Do you post just to post something, anything? Does it not matter to you that it is nowhere near the subject matter, just so long as you post, some avoidance or other, something….nothing, anything?

    A bit sad isnt it.

    And again, no mention of the subject matter of Police costs for Operation Manila Envelope either. You avoid that like the plague dont you.

    Apologies Paul and Ruth for the copy and paste:-

    “The cost of Operation Manila stands at £11.75m. This includes data up to June 2019.
    The PCC said the Home Office has paid 85% of the costs for 2017-2018 and £5.9m for 2018-2019. A further claim would be submitted for 2019-2020.”

    Remember that? No? Didn’t think so.

    If you continue painting yourself into yet more corners and digging any more holes for yourself, you will have nowhere to go but down.

    Never mind. I’m sure watching you franticly spinning on your own axis is just as amusing to others as it is to me.

    Lets see what is dredged up next from that voluminous pit of bitterness and bile shall we?

  4. Nothing left to police.

    Well organised communities have pummelled the ‘industry’ into dust. The Government has imposed a moratorium because Cuadrilla can’t control the level or amount of sesmicity. Centrica won’t give another dime and AJ Lucas shares have plummeted leaving AJ Lucas very unhappy indeed.


    With UK shale supposedly such an amazing money spinner maybe Cuadrilla should offer to foot the policing bill. That is if they could afford to.

    ‘The suspension in England will put pressure on Cuadrilla Resources which has so far invested £270m in the country’s shale gas industry’


  5. I’ll just check whether the expensive roadside pole mounted spy cameras either side of the PNR gates, supposedly loaned from the Home Office, have been removed before believing Operation Manilla has been terminated.

    Ridiculous though that millions of pounds were spent by Lancashire Constabulary forcing a toxic industry on an unwilling Community when Operation Augusta, supposed to track down and prosecute organised child abusers, was pulled, allegedly on financial grounds!

    • Ok., the cameras are gone! That’s good! Minimum security as well. That’s also good.

      Now we need the flare stacks to go but that won’t be until Egan stops getting paid when the extended flow testing is complete later in the year.

      At which point we’ll all know what we knew before, that our windy, faulted, densely populated island is not suitable for industrial scale onshore unconventional hydraulic fracturing as a method of gas extraction. Our limited supply of fresh pure water and the worldwide climate emergency make it even more blindingly obvious that mountains of money have been wasted and earnt chasing this David Cameron/Francis Egan created pipe dream.

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